Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > Airlines and Mileage Programs > Air Canada | Aeroplan
Reload this Page >

The JetsGo demise: a case study on how Air Canada and WestJet communicate.

The JetsGo demise: a case study on how Air Canada and WestJet communicate.

Old Mar 14, 05, 9:53 am
  #1  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Southern Alberta
Posts: 20,554
The JetsGo demise: a case study on how Air Canada and WestJet communicate.

There has indeed been a great deal of comments on the difference in style and content in the AC and WS press communiques following the demise of JetsGo.

There seems to be consensus that WestJet did a better job conveying the message that they were being proactive and compassionate to SG pax and aircrew. AC's initial press release came across as somewhat hard nosed and only at the end of the press release was a paragraph that came and modified the initial tone. In fact, Air Canada issued a second press release that was much better and under the byline of Monty Brewer.

The intent of this post is not to bash AC, (In fact, I have been accused of being an AC apologist ) but to open a discussion on how Air Canada can improve its public image. Perception is capital in the winning over of public hearts. The communication plans for both airlines was clearly won by WestJet. Air Canada came across as somewhat unfeeling and thus reinforced an opinion in the public that it is not as caring an airline as WestJet.

IMHO, this is another department that needs closer attention by the board. Public Relations and communications with constituents is in need of drastic improvement.

Your thoughts ...for perusal by AC lurkers....and remember that I am an AC fan...
airbus320 is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 10:13 am
  #2  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Chilling with penguins
Posts: 13,027
... but not an AC apologist, eh?

In all seriousness, I think AC handled this better than most other PR items in recent times. You are right, a320, that the second press release conveyed a sweeter message, but I think it should have been Milton going out to talk to the media and perhaps even some of the executive core could have gone out to the airport and helped out (you know, a good show for the TV -- this could have happened and if it did, then that's great! )
YOWkid is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 10:30 am
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Vancouver
Programs: AE
Posts: 10,567
Simple, think before you send out the release. How will this sound to the general public? Maybe bounce it off a spouse/partner who has a perspective outsode the industry,or maybe some FT'ers

Make a good news story. For instance there's a piece in today's Vancouver Sun about the Canadian Mennonite Univ choir being left in the lurch by Jetsgo on their way to a festival in YYZ. Now AC can't go bailing out every stranded Jetsgo customer, but they do have a solid history of sponsoring the arts...A quick call to the choir and a fast track of that choirs sponsorship request would give AC some great PR. Given that it's a story out of the 'peg and was picked up in YVR I'm pretty sure AC would be guaranteed coverage (hopefully WS hasn't done it 1st).
LeSabre74 is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 2:54 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: YUL
Programs: Aeroplan Prestige, Starwood, Fairmont President Club, Hilton Honours
Posts: 94
I think it's more a question of how the media spins the info that AC provides. The media always tends to cast a negative and suspicious spin on most of what AC does, whereas WJ can do no wrong as the underdog.

I found it irritating to see the Quebec TV stations all claiming AC was gouging customers on routes like Florida during their busiest travel periods of the year. With Spring Break, AC's flights are surely very full. If the only seats available same day are over $1000 one way, what is the problem? This is what any market driven biz would do. Somehow because its AC and in the airline industry its cast as suspicious and sneaky. I say if AC can make some money in Jetsgo's demise, all the power to AC. The media should respect that. AC did not cause Jetsgo's failure...
Airbus340 is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 3:07 pm
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Retired
Programs: Free from the constraints of Loyalty programs.
Posts: 178
I do agree that AC could have sent out a better release than was first done. Brewer's later release was right on the mark. There is a definate problem with AC's public relations area, and I tend to think that it is due for some change of personnel soon. Like everything at AC, it isn't going to all happen overnight.

That being said, the media spin is still against AC. Even after Brewer released his comments the media was still playing the old one. WJ is good at getting a message out, even if it is pure bullcrap. (employee's able to travel stand by for X dollars sounds good but those flights are going to be full moving stranded passengers)(stranded passengers will get "special low fares", I checked some routes and those low fares were close to what AC was offering anyone affected not just "stranded" passengers.)
Nothwich is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 5:30 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,391
Originally Posted by Nothwich
I do agree that AC could have sent out a better release than was first done. Brewer's later release was right on the mark. There is a definate problem with AC's public relations area, and I tend to think that it is due for some change of personnel soon. Like everything at AC, it isn't going to all happen overnight.

That being said, the media spin is still against AC. Even after Brewer released his comments the media was still playing the old one. WJ is good at getting a message out, even if it is pure bullcrap. (employee's able to travel stand by for X dollars sounds good but those flights are going to be full moving stranded passengers)(stranded passengers will get "special low fares", I checked some routes and those low fares were close to what AC was offering anyone affected not just "stranded" passengers.)
A case study? You all have to be crazy. Do none of you have MBA's? A real case study focusses much attention to the results as well as the means employed to get the results. You are debating a pair of press releases put out in the early hours of a much larger crisis by two carriers who were tangential to the main player (SG). I spent a few hours over the past 72 hours reading the press coverage online, and there is nary a mention of thank you's to WJ for offering special fares or consideration. In fact, there is a suspicion at AC that WJ either never had special fares or in such small numbers that you coud legitimately accuse WJ of bait and switch. If you know how to contact Empress, I bet he can give you more info than I, on the Q-T of course.

That being said, the press coverage - and I have read dozens of wire stories and bylined stories - does not go into this AC vs WS who-did-more thing, and I believe it can be safely said that whatever the two carriers did privately, or said publicly, they were miniscule players in the whole affair, except that some news outlets quoted SG's CCAA filing which tried to lay all the blame for its demise on WS. Put in context, this whole discussion is about an IRRELEVANCE!
Sebring is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 5:36 pm
  #7  
exAC
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
If Air Canada had said "We will look after JetsGo passengers" it would have been a disaster PR wise for the company.

I guess that I need to remind the detractors here of mtacchi's post of two weeks ago asking 'Why are all of the YYZ-YVR flights showing zero's". Air Canada did not have very much inventory to sell anyone last Friday and Saturday. What they did have was mostly in J/c. I was watching the YYZ-YEG route last week. On Friday there were less than 50 seats available all day Friday and it was virtually all in J/c.

There was not much available to get the JetsGo passengers all excited about. As it was, on the flight that I took YYZ-YEG midday on Friday, there were a number of JetsGo people that stood-by for the few seats available. The gate agent filled the airplane front to back and there were about 10 very happy JetsGo customers that made it home.
 
Old Mar 14, 05, 5:42 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Posts: 2,698
Part of the problem was that by the time AC issued their amended press release, the reporters had already written their story and moved on. Some news outlets did eventually pick up on the amended release, but many just left the story as it was and probably didn't even notice the change.

After AC issued a brand new press release later in the day saying they were adding flights for stranded SG passengers, it was added to the stories, and that's what now appears when the media recaps Friday's events. Brewer probably should have issued a brand new release instead of amending the old one.

But on a larger scale, everyone knew this was going to happen. WS issued their release at 2 am ET. I don't think they just finished a board meeting to decide what to do -- they probably already had a plan. AC also should have had a plan, and it should have been communicated to the PR people.
StuMcIlwain is online now  
Old Mar 14, 05, 6:06 pm
  #9  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Southern Alberta
Posts: 20,554
Sebring: I will concede that the use of the word case study was an unfortunate one. I wish one could edit titles on FT.

The gist of my post was that in the battle for the hearts of the population WestJet seems to have the upper hand. It may because they are perceived as the underdog in the struggle with the bigger guys... or that the WestJet spin doctors are more skilled at portraying WestJet as the airline with a heart. In public relations, perception is a big part of the game; reality and fact is only second fiddle....

All my initial post was to raise the issue that AC has serious room for improvement in the PR/ communication department.

I would wager that if you were to poll people on what airline came across as more caring to SG standed pax and crew, people would state WS. To what percentage, I am not certain.

Last edited by airbus320; Mar 14, 05 at 6:08 pm
airbus320 is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 6:21 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Posts: 3,391
Originally Posted by airbus320
Sebring: I will concede that the use of the word case study was an unfortunate one. I wish one could edit titles on FT.

The gist of my post was that in the battle for the hearts of the population WestJet seems to have the upper hand. It may because they are perceived as the underdog in the struggle with the bigger guys... or that the WestJet spin doctors are more skilled at portraying WestJet as the airline with a heart. In public relations, perception is a big part of the game; reality and fact is only second fiddle....

All my initial post was to raise the issue that AC has serious room for improvement in the PR/ communication department.

I would wager that if you were to poll people on what airline came across as more caring to SG standed pax and crew, people would state WS. To what percentage, I am not certain.
I just don't buy what you say. It was such a small issue in all the press coverage that it is hardly, if at all mentionned. There were individuals comments that tended to be neutral towards the carrier providing the rescue. Nobody quoted that I saw was paying the same money on WS, AC or Skyservice or whomever. Everybody shrugged their shoulders and by and large wanted Leblanc to rot in hell - that was a comment used frequently - but had neither great praise nor condemnation for the other airlines. There were people in Cancun who had to buy a ticket on Skyservice to come home only to have a mechanical strand them for 13 hours, and they were a bit steamed, but by and large, there was no particular emotion expressed towards anyone but Jetsgo.

And if you are going to talk about communications, you have to take it right through the weekend TV interviews - I thought Milton gave one of his best interviews ever on Question Period. Though SG was author of its own demise, as was C3 in 2001, Clive spent a lot of time denying allegations that WS was responsible for SG's death.

In the totality of things, one would have to say that except for a slip up in the early hours, AC was solid all weekend. But it doesn't really matter because the spotlight was on Jetsgo and those who were stranded and on the feds for what they might have one, etc.
Sebring is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 6:26 pm
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 11,935
Originally Posted by exAC

As it was, on the flight that I took YYZ-YEG midday on Friday, there were a number of JetsGo people that stood-by for the few seats available. The gate agent filled the airplane front to back and there were about 10 very happy JetsGo customers that made it home.
Were the passengers formerly booked on Jetsgo now "Happy" AC passengers?
Are these unhappy former jetsgo passengers going to remember that AC saved their butts,even if it meant paying more?
acysb87 is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 6:34 pm
  #12  
exAC
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Originally Posted by acysb87
Were the passengers formerly booked on Jetsgo now "Happy" AC passengers?
Are these unhappy former jetsgo passengers going to remember that AC saved their butts,even if it meant paying more?
I didn't speak to any of them directly, but there was one very young couple with two babies (maybe 6 weeks and 16months) that looked so forlorn as they waited for the gate agent try and sort out how they were going to get them on. The look of relief as they finally received their boarding cards was palpable.

Will they remember Air Canada?? The cynic in me says that come the next time they go to purchase an airplane ticket, they will go for the lowest price again.
 
Old Mar 14, 05, 7:02 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Seattle, WA
Programs: AC Elite
Posts: 298
The cynic agrees. I still find that flying for alot of people can be a seemingly unpleasant experience. We FTers know what to expect when we fly, having experienced great flights and awful ones.

In general, the long line up just to get on the plane and in your seat can be very unpleasant. The sitting on the plane for 20 - 30 minutes before takeoff is unpleasant. Sitting in the back and waiting 10 minutes to get off the plane sucks. Waiting 15 to 30 minutes for your luggage sucks. The process of getting home sucks. The whole process of air travel already is stressful enough for most people.

Most of us here are are status passengers, so we often forget how stressful it is as we sit in the MLL sucking back our caesars, stroll first (or last) onto the plane, at the front, and generally (for the most part) get treated well and know what to expect.

So no matter what plane you are on, unless the experience is made especially pleasureful (for whatever reason), be it the can of pop, extra snacks, a great movie, an exit row, or an empty seat next to you, you're not going to enjoy flying. When planes are full, the odds of anything pleasant happening to you are slimmer.

So, for anyone flying on March 11th, or during the holiday seasons, the experience will likely be unpleasant to you if you don't know what to expect. You'll associate that unpleasantness with a particular airline, even though most people went through exactly the same thing you did, no matter what airline you chose to do business with that day. For 17,000 last Friday, it was SG, but they'll remember the plane they did fly on, too. And unfortunately, since most people paid for that ticket, too, they will find that experience unpleasant also.
boymimbo is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 8:25 pm
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Vancouver
Programs: AE
Posts: 10,567
Originally Posted by Sebring
A case study? You all have to be crazy. Do none of you have MBA's? A real case study focusses much attention to the results as well as the means employed to get the results. You are debating a pair of press releases put out in the early hours of a much larger crisis by two carriers who were tangential to the main player (SG). I spent a few hours over the past 72 hours reading the press coverage online, and there is nary a mention of thank you's to WJ for offering special fares or consideration. In fact, there is a suspicion at AC that WJ either never had special fares or in such small numbers that you coud legitimately accuse WJ of bait and switch. If you know how to contact Empress, I bet he can give you more info than I, on the Q-T of course.

That being said, the press coverage - and I have read dozens of wire stories and bylined stories - does not go into this AC vs WS who-did-more thing, and I believe it can be safely said that whatever the two carriers did privately, or said publicly, they were miniscule players in the whole affair, except that some news outlets quoted SG's CCAA filing which tried to lay all the blame for its demise on WS. Put in context, this whole discussion is about an IRRELEVANCE!
Ooo, are we in the presence of a jen-ewe-ine MBA?


You're missing the point entirely. Of course the media weren't debating the press releases, but the releases set the tone for the coverage. What's wrong with what WS did? They did exactly what any PR savvy company would do. They didn't claim to be offering thousands of seats, did they? In fact AC probably did more by adding extra flights but they didn't spin it that way, at least at first.

And now it appears that AC had advance knowledge from the Transport Minister about SG's demise, and WS didn't. And yet AC still came across as a [email protected], uncaring company!!! There's no excuse for that, especially when it wasn't true. Once again repeat after me: It's not what you say, it's how you say it.
LeSabre74 is offline  
Old Mar 14, 05, 11:11 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: YYC
Programs: AC Basic, UA MP Gold, Marriott Gold Elite, SPG Gold, Amex Platinum
Posts: 2,994
Originally Posted by StuMcIlwain
But on a larger scale, everyone knew this was going to happen. WS issued their release at 2 am ET. I don't think they just finished a board meeting to decide what to do -- they probably already had a plan. AC also should have had a plan, and it should have been communicated to the PR people.
IMHO Westjet did have a plan. But not because they figured Jetsgo would fold so quickly, Westjet was resigned to the idea that Jetsgo would hang around for the summer (a few Westjet HQ people confided this to me). There was a PR concern at Westjet that the language used in the Q4 and year end conference call was too strong. The media really hyped that Westjet was more aggressively defending its territory and would not let anyone (read Jetsgo) gain a toe hold on their home turf. The PR head shed probably came up with a plan that would deflect criticism away from Westjet's head on attack on Jetsgo. Their fear being that Westjet would be blamed for Jetsgo's demise.

The Westjet 2am release was far too polished to be created that night. This was a plan worked on and vetted weeks earlier. The plan to help Jetsgo passengers was a diversionary tactic to highlight that Westjet was doing something other than uncorking the baby duck (they're too cheap for good champagne).

As for the cheap seats on WS, what wasn't identified in the press release (and Westjet's learning experience) is that Westjet had a special fare class for those former Jetsgo passengers that were stranded. If former Jetsgo passengers were on the return leg of their flight and could prove the point via a print out, then the passenger could get a Westjet ticket at a lower price than on the website and offered to all other passengers. This fare class was only offered via call centre or at the airport (required human intervention by a Westjet employee).

Take a look at the Westjet Q4 conference call in February and compare it to the AC Q4 release two days before Jetsgo's demise. In the Westjet call Clive talked heavily about defending turf and getting aggressive with price. In the ACE investor conference call, Robert talked about letting Westjet and Jetsgo fight amongst themselves and AC would fly above the fight to focus on their own business model.
WR Cage is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: